Wilderness Section: Devil’s Lake Side Trail now marked with blue blazes

Glynn Richardson
Wilderness Club

Wilderness Section: Devil’s Lake Side Trail now marked with blue blazes

On October 13, 2018, the Ganaraska Trail, Wilderness Club along with Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park staff changed the colour of the blazes on the Devil’s Lake Side Trail from the access point to Petticoat Junction from white to blue today. Also, the occasional blue reflective blazes were installed – great for those needing to make it out after the sun has set (head lamp or flashlight needed). Thanks to all the volunteers who gave a little back to help maintain the trail we all love.

Ganaraska End to End Challenge, Margaret O’Dell


The idea of hiking the Ganaraska Hiking Trail came on the heels of completing the 900Km Bruce Trail in September 2017. What were we going to do next? My long time friend and hiking partner Wendy Manning and I were enthusiastic to begin a new challenge together and made a plan during the winter of 2017/18 to hike one one of the most popular trails in England, the Coast to Coast Path, a 305Km epic adventure which we would complete in 12 days in May 2018. The GHT fit right in with our plans, offering a not only new challenge but a commitment to hiking as much as we could ahead of our trip. Being that it was also the 50th anniversary of the GHTA, it also made for a significant achievement to undertake.

With member, guidebook, and maps in hand, we exuberantly began in Port Hope on March 3, 2018. Pine Ridge was interesting with it’s rolling hills and unique landmarks; the rail trail through Kawartha took us through the towns of Lindsay and Fenelon Falls, along its scenic lakes and streams,  very picturesque, but the cool north wind chill and wintery conditions well into April made for challenging hikes. We ran into some trouble in the final section of Kawartha though, painstakingly trudging through very deep snow and had to bushwhack around impassable water crossings in the north end of Corben Lake to get back to the trail; one of many exhausting hikes!

Ahead of our trip to England in May we successfully completed 198Km of the trail, including two of the three hikes in the Wilderness section, but due to the water levels, the crossover would have to wait until we returned.

We planned to hike the Wilderness crossover in one day. There was little support for this giving the distance, and most people would backpack over a few days. Yet we were determined. We cancelled twice due to conditions, but finally got the opportunity on June 23rd. The beaver dams were all passable, as water levels had dropped, but blazes were almost impossible to spot in places, completed shrouded in growth; as was the trail, overgrown with ferns above our heads and thorny shrubs that left our legs shredded and bloodied. The going was slow, stopping often to consult the maps; each time I removed my head netting, the insects would attack with a vengeance. It took 13.5 hours to hike from Devil’s Lake to Victoria Bridge. Our nerves were rattled, and our minds to the point of breaking, but we did it! We got through the most difficult hike ever!

By mid July we were back on the trail again, having a renewed interest in continuing now that the worse was over, or so we thought. We took advantage of the two hike weekends by camping: Bass Lake PP,  for the Orillia section, Awenda for the Oro-Medonte/Midland/Tiny sections. Over Labour Day weekend we took a cottage for the Wasaga section. We still had the insects to contend with, but we also started notice an abundant varieties of interesting mushrooms in the Simcoe Country Forest Tracts. In mid-August we coined our hike of the Tiny section a “Hike with Monarchs”, such a joy to have them fluttering everywhere around us!

Every hike had its challenges: a lot of bushwhacking in very rough terrain and high grasses; heat and humidity that zapped our energy; navigating around countless fallen trees; and of course finding blazes to keep us on course. But with every challenge there were numerous surprises too, always an element of discovery: interesting landmarks, historical areas, beautiful scenery, and quaint communities.

Our final weekend of the GHT on September 8 and 9 proved no less of a challenge. We had 57.3Km to cover to get to the Western Cairn. The last section of Barrie had us crossing a vast section of high grasses for over a kilometer with very difficult to spot blazes. We eventually reached the forest, and to our excitement we finally find our very first Giant Puffball mushroom. The reward was a total thrill. The Mad River section followed a disused rail bed for 10K to New Lowell, interesting at first as it crossed both the Nottawasaga and the Mad Rivers. But it was so overgrown and challenging, we had to continually divert to road to get through it. But then at the end, we discovered a beautiful little trailer park (with facilities!) in New Lowell that brightened our spirits.

On the final day we ambled through the very scenic town of Creemore, stopping at a café, visiting Canada’s smallest Jail, and admiring a beautiful church; delightful! We knew the challenge was not over. After climbing the 400m Ten Hill with its spectacular views, we descended to an un-blazed field on Concession 6 S. We had to find our way to a tree-line, crossing a creek hidden by the high grasses; it was tasking and slow but we eventually found a place to cross the creek and head to the trees, fallen trees, everywhere. The challenges just kept coming. We did manage to find the blazes and continued through the forest. We would lose the trail once more in this final 5K stretch, but we found our way to Glen Huron, with only the victory climb up McKinney’s Hill to the Western Cairn. We made it! We popped open the champagne, sat on the Cairn and celebrated! We fought this challenge with courage and zest right to the end. There’s no reward better the feeling of accomplishment that comes with having worked through some really tough challenges.

507Km, 18 hikes! An extraordinary journey!

Midland Ganaraska Members join in Canada Day Parade

July 1, 2018 was so far probably the hottest day of 2018. Regardless, 20 dedicated hikers from the Midland Club of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail took part in the Canada Parade in Midland, Ontario. What a bright and colourful group! Thanks to all the hikers who came out to promote the hiking club.

Meanwhile, the Ganaraska Hiking Trail display was set up at Little Lake in Midland to try and attract new members.

(Canada Day Parade in Midland)

Frieda Baldwin

Ganaraska 50th Anniversary Water Relay – Tiny section

The Ganaraska 50th Anniversary Water Relay is well underway, with 21 bike riders carrying the water from Georgian Bay along part of the Tiny Section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail. The water has already traveled along the Wasaga Beach and part of the Barrie section on its way to Orillia, where it is due to arrive by September 29, 2018, and will be ceremoniously joined with water from Lake Ontario that has been carried along the Pine Ridge, Kawartha, Wilderness and Orillia Sections. Starting August 1, the Georgian Bay water will continue on its way to Orillia via the Midland, Oro Medonte and Orillia sections of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail.

Photo: Trip leader Gord Carson with GHTA president Frieda Baldwin.

Ganaraska Trail 50 th Anniversary End-to-end/Water Relay hikes April to July 2018

Ganaraska Trail
50 th Anniversary End-to-end/Water Relay hikes
April to July 2018

50th Anniversary E2E Water Relay

To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association (GHTA) members will carry water from Lake Ontario and from Georgian Bay to Orillia, where on September 29, 2018, the GHTA’s 50th Anniversary celebrations will take place at Lakehead University.

The attached schedule shows the dates the water will be carried by volunteer hikers along the trail. Since the water will be carried along the entire 500 km Ganaraska Hiking Trail, the dates of the Water Carrying serve also as an opportunity for anyone wishing to join in the events and obtain an End to End (E2E) badge for completing a Ganaraska Trail section. This schedule is for the period of April 21 to July. The fall schedule will follow later.

Information on the cost of an E2E section badge, how to obtain them, etc. is available on our website https://ganaraska-hiking-trail.org/?page_id=713

For more information, contact the individuals listed in the schedule, or contact info@ganaraska-hiking-trail.org.

Frieda Baldwin
GHTA President



April 21-22 weekend will see the kickoff of a season of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc. (GHTA Inc.), an association of 9 member clubs stewarding a 500 km trail stretching from Port Hope (Lake Ontario) at the southern terminus, to Devil’s Glen near Glen Huron, (just south of Blue Mountains) at the western terminus.

The trail winds through rolling farmlands and woods, follows quiet country roads and small towns and villages, and even traverses a city (Orillia). The Wilderness section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail, is unique and passes through the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. Including branch trails, the total length of the trail is in excess of 500 kilometres, used for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, thanks to the generosity of landowners who have given permission to cross their land.
The Association will be 50 years old as of April 21, 2018, and the first of the celebratory events will be a public hike offered by the member clubs on Saturday, April 21, or Sunday, April 22 (see the bottom of this article for Details of GHTA Local Club Hikes).


The Oro-Medonte Ganaraska hiking club is hosting a moderate 2 hour hike in the scenic Copeland Forest. Meet at 1:30 PM at the P2 Copeland Parking lot on Ingram Road, just east of Oro-Medonte Line 4 N. Contact Bob 705-728-8985 or Christine 705-733-3825

The Kawartha Ganaraska hiking club is hosting a number of hikes on the Stoney Lake Trails, ranging from easy to moderate (4, 6 or 9 km). Bring lunch/snacks & water. Meet at 9:15 AM at the Riverview Park & Zoo for carpooling to the start of the hike. Contact Tony 705-755-0815.

The Orillia Ganaraska hiking club is hosting 2 hikes at Scout Valley. Meet at 10 AM at the Scout valley Regan House parking lot on Line 15. For the easy hike, contact Sharon 705-327-7611.
For the moderate hike, contact Paul 705-325-6001. Wear sturdy footwear, carry water.

The Pine Ridge Ganaraska hiking club is hosting a 6 km easy hike. Meet at 10 AM at the Port Hope Town Hall, for the hike and the ceremonial dipping of water from Lake Ontario for the first of the Water Relay hikes across the 500 km long Ganaraska Hiking trail. Contact Stan 905-885-9310.

The Wilderness Ganaraska hiking club is hosting 2 hikes in the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. Hiking boots are recommended. Bring lunch/snacks and water. Meet at 8:30 AM at the Devil’s Lake parking lot.
• A moderate 8 km hike from Devil’s Lake to Sheldon Lake and return. Contact Glynn at glynnr@hotmail.com
• A much more challenging 19 km hike from Devil’s Lake to Moore’s Falls. Duration 7 to 8 hours. The terrain is rugged and varies. Hiking boots recommended. Contact Robert 705-345-7155.

The Wasaga Beach hiking club is hosting a 6.8 km hike of the Schoonertown Loop. Meet at Schoonertown Parkette (corner of Oxbow Park Dr., and River Rd. West) at 10 a.m. (1 ½ – 2 hours). Contact Irene – 705 352 1060.

The Midland Ganaraska hiking club is hosting an easy 8 km hike in the Tiny Marsh. Meet at 1 PM in front of the Tiny Marsh Visitor Centre, on the Tiny/Springwater Townline. Contact Marc 705-527-1967.

The Barrie Ganaraska hiking club is hosting 2 hikes in the Copeland Forest:
• Easy 2-3 hour hike on mostly flat terrain. Meet at 10 AM at the P2 parking lot on Ingram Road, just east of Oro-Medonte Line 4 N. Contact Brian 705-728-5718
• Moderate 4 hour hike on hilly terrain. Meet at 9:30 AM at the P2 parking lot on Ingram Road, just east of Oro-Medonte Line 4 N. Contact John 705-715-6994

Trail Reroute For Barrie Section

Barrie – February 2018 – GHTA Map21, SCF Museum Tract Reroute

From: John Sloan

The reason for this change is the Simcoe County Forest restoration project in the Museum Tract. Currently trees have been removed from the decommissioned gravel pit just south of the Museum (where the Ganaraska Trail now runs). Over the next couple of years there will be controlled burns and extensive replanting in this area. When all the work it done and the area stable and safe for use again we can revisit the trail route if needed. Details of the restoration project can be found at the following website.
> Thanks to Jeff Haglund and Bob Murrell for mapping out the new route.